When corporations rule the world
is there a way out then?

by David Korten

Educate magazine, Issue3/volume 2


Human persons who behave in a similarly self-centered and destructive way [as corporations] devoid of conscience, are called pychopaths and are commonly deprived of their freedom as threats to society and confined to prisons or mental institutions.

Corporate officers suspected of sacrificing share price to acts of conscience out of concern for workers, community, or the environment, face a serious threat of dismissal.

The reality is we are dealing with global or transnational corporations, which means corporations that do not recognize any national or local interest or obligation.

The publicly traded, limited liability corporation is in the legal sense not a human institution. It is a pool of money, dedicated to the sole vocation of making money, on which a corrupted legal system has bestowed special legal privileges and protections not granted to real living persons.

We presently live under two competing system of (global governance: The Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations. The former is primarily aligned with the corporate interest and the latter is primarily aligned with the human and natural interest.

The Bretton Woods institutions - the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), previously the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) - are major institutional players in rewriting the rules of the global economy to circumvent democracy to rewrite the economic rules to favor the concentration of wealth and power.

All three claim to be dedicated to the cause of the poor and the disadvantaged. But look at their policies and actions and you find the World Bank, the IMF, and the WTO consider the ideal country to be one in which all assets and resources are owned by foreign corporations producing for export to generate foreign exchange to repay international debts. Their favored country has no public services. Power, water, education, health care, social security, and financial services are all owned and operated by foreign corporations for profit on a fee for service basis. Food and other goods for domestic consumption are all imported from abroad and paid for with money borrowed from foreign banks.

In the United States corporations have extracted so main tax concessions from local governments that local governments have increasing difficulty funding public schools. Then corporations step in to help out by offering the schools money in return for exclusive marketing contracts that allow them to promote and sell Coca Cola and other junk foods in schools that are desperate for any source of additional income. The corporations also step in with "gifts" of teaching materials that present a corporate friendly view on environmental and economic issues. Most are thinly disguised combination of political propaganda and advertising aimed at indoctrination and building brand loyalty.

Although some 50 percent of Americans own some stock, the richest 1 percent of households own nearly 50 percent of the value of all stocks owned by Americans. Globally the ownership of stocks is far more concentrated. Surely less than 1 percent of all households in the world participate in stock ownership in any consequential way.

... civil society tells the story of a world in deepening crisis of such magnitude as to threaten the fabric of civilization and the survival of the species a world of rapidly growing inequality, erosion of relationships of trust and caring, and a failing planetary life support system.

Where corporate globalists tell of the spread of democracy and vibrant market economies, civil society tells of the power to govern shifting away from people and communities to financial speculators and global corporations dedicated to the blind pursuit of short-term profit in disregard of human and natural concerns.

Civil society sees corporations replacing democracies of people with democracies of money, self-organizing markets with centrally planned corporate economies, and spiritually grounded ethical cultures with cultures of greed and materialism.

In the eyes of civil society the corporate global economy is a suicide economy that is destroying the foundations of its own survival and the survival of the species. They see a corrupt political process awash in corporate money and beholden to corporate interests rewriting our laws to provide corporations with massive public subsidies while eliminating the regulations and borders that hold corporations accountable to some larger public interest. They see the World Bank, IMF, and World Trade Organization as leading agents of this assault against life.

The human future depends on a deep economic transformation aimed at ridding human society of the pathology of the global, publicly traded, limited liability corporation.

Index of Website

Home Page